Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music

First Advisor

Jack Sheinbaum, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Antonia Banducci

Third Advisor

Sarah Morelli

Fourth Advisor

Ronald DeLyser


Der Ring des Nibelungen, Götterdämmerung, Shakespeare, Wagner, Walkure


With the Gesamtkunstwerk, the “total work of art,” German opera composer Richard Wagner sought the perfect artistic synthesis of music and dramatic theater. Crucial to this vision was the idea that music and drama should be equally well constructed. However, while a considerable amount of Wagner scholarship has focused on the music Wagner composed, less has explored his methods for creating complex and psychologically rich characters. Richard Wagner the librettist spent considerable time and effort reading and studying the works of William Shakespeare, as evidenced by his wife’s journals, the contents of his library at Bayreuth, and his personal accounts. In this thesis, I explore resonances between the dramatic works of William Shakespeare (specifically Hamlet, The Tempest, and Macbeth) and characters in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. This thesis delves first into the father/son relationship, examining how sons react to their father’s “Call to Action” through a study of Hagen/Alberich and Hamlet/the Ghost. Next, it inspects the father/daughter relationship through a daughter acting as witness to her father’s “Inability to Act” through Brünnhilde/Wotan and Miranda/Prospero. Finally, it probes ways female characters experience regret for actions they’ve taken, investigating “Feminine Madness,” guilt, and societal expectations through a comparison of Brünnhilde and two of Shakespeare’s female characters, Ophelia and Lady Macbeth.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lindsay Elizabeth Bachman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

177 p.